Al Hoota Cave

April 13th 2014

THE CAVE

Estimated to be over 2 million years old, Al Hoota Cave is located at the foot of Jabal Shams, in Al Hamra district. The cave was first opened to receive tourist on the in November 2006 during 17th National Day, after setting walkways, stairs and a light system to make the cave an enjoyable and safe experience for visitors.  It is the first and only show cave in the Gulf area, which is accessible to the general public.

 

The total length of the cave is around 4.5 Km, of which 500 m is open for tourists, in other words, around 10 % of the entire cave distance is for touristic use. The tour inside the cave is about 45 minutes with the guide, who will stop visitors in different points to share with them on the story, history and formation of the cave.

 

Al Hoota Cave contains a rich ecosystem that includes two lakes, one is a small northern lake and the other one is the central lake. The underground lake estimates to be holding 30,000 m³ of water. The main lake is 800 m long and 10 m wide, with a maximum depth of 15 m, where you can find rare blind fish “garra barreimiae”.

Al Hoots Cave

The cave homes over 100 animal species including bats (Rhinopoma Muscatellum), arthropods, mollusks, big sparassid hunter spiders, snails, water beetles (Aglymbus gestroi), and other rare and endemic species. Al-Hoota cave system, like many other caves in Oman, was formed by the dissolution of limestone by acidic water. Caves might be seemingly made of stone, but they are made by water. It all starts when rainwater dissolves carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or soil, producing a dilute carbonic acid that dissolves the limestone, creating room for it, thus forming the cave. 10 mm of water dissolves its way through rock in 1000 years.  The formation of the cave is entirely natural, and consists of stalactites hanging down from the ceiling, and stalagmites reaching up from the floor, forming interesting and sometimes uncanny shapes such as “the lion”. Some of the columns and curtains were formed over millions of years, and all structures are softened due to the flow of water.

 

The lighting system at the cave is done with remote controls, allowing the guides to turn it off whenever they complete their tour at any specific point.  The cave is kept with no lights when there are no tours taking place in order to avoid disturbing the species at the cave, and to avoid the formation of algae.

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Al Hoots Cave

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